What Waitangi Day means to me

18:04, Feb 06 2013
Waitangi Day: Then and now
Four Australians join the Maori land protestors in the grounds of Parliament. From left, Gary Foley, Gary Williams and brothers Charlie and Ross Watson. The four were founders of the Aborigine tent embassy set up in the grounds of the Australian parliament in 1972. Photo taken 1975.
Waitangi Day: Then and now
Taranaki Maori in Parliament's Maori Affairs room before meeting a government caucus committee over claims for compensation stemming from confiscation of land in the 1860s. Pictured at back from left: Hamiora Raumati, Maui Pomare, Neville Baker, Makare Love. At front from left: Hoani Meremaia, Mrs Moe Reweti, Mrs Sally Karena, Ralph Love (negotiator), Mrs Matekitawhiti Carr (secretary) and Pehi Tamati (chairman).
Waitangi Day: Then and now
Waitangi Day protest 1983.
Waitangi Day: Then and now
Waitangi Day protest 1983.
Waitangi Day: Then and now
Photo provided by TVNZ of Robin Morrison's photograph of Bastion Point. Undated photo.
Waitangi Day: From the archives
Kaumatua (elders) Henare Sutherland (left), Matiu Tarawa (centre) and Robert Pene lead Ngati Whatua and supporters on a march to mark the tenth anniversary of the eviction at Bastion Point. Photo taken in 1988.
Waitangi Day: From the archives
Bastion Point, 1978.
Waitangi Day: From the archives
Bastion Point, 1978.
Waitangi Day: From the archives
Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples is welcomed with a hongi at Te Tii Marae on February 5, 2013 in Waitangi, New Zealand. The Waitangi Day national holiday celebrates the signing of the treaty of Waitangi on February 6, 1840 by Maori chiefs and the British Crown, that granted the Maori people the rights of British Citizens and ownership of their lands and other properties.
Waitangi Day: From the archives
Ngapuhi elder Kingi Taurua (L) talks to media at Te Tii Marae on February 5, 2013 in Waitangi, New Zealand.
Waitangi Day: From the archives
One of the many Maori waka out on the water on Waitangi Day, Waitangi, Bay of Islands, Friday February 6, 2009.
Waitangi Day: From the archives
Titewhai Harawira centre, leads National Party leader John Key onto the Te Tii Marae, Bay of Islands in the build up to Waitangi Day celebrations in 2008.
Waitangi Day: From the archives
A local stands and waves his flag in front of a group of police on the Treaty grounds on Waitangi Day, Waitangi, Bay of Islands in 2009.

We asked our readers to tell us what Waitangi Day means to them. Here student Grace King, 17, writes about her longing for a day when New Zealand celebrates its national pride.

Starting primary school at age five, we learn about the defining point at the beginning of New Zealand history: The signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Every year since then, we cover it again in more detail as we get older.

Waitangi
The dawn service gets under way at the Waitangi Treaty grounds.
Waitangi
Hundreds gathered at the Treaty grounds for the dawn service.
Waitangi
Labour leader David Shearer also attended the celebrations.
Waitangi
A child rests her eyes at the dawn service.
Waitangi
MP Shane Jones is pictured at the dawn service.
Waitangi
Titewhai Harawira and her daughter arrive for the dawn service.
2013 Waitangi Day
A world record-setting haka attempt came after the morning's formalities.
2013 Waitangi
Ani Tairua, the woman who almost took over Titewhai Harawira's PM escort role.
2013 Waitangi
Kapa haka in Paihia after the morning's formalities.
2013 Waitangi
The crowds at Paihia this morning.
2013 Waitangi
John Key at Waitangi grounds early this morning.

We learn about how the British colonised New Zealand, and the problems with the Treaty throughout our history.

We learn about how misunderstood translations have shaped how Maori and Pakeha interacted in the 20th century.

As a teenager now, it is still covered in Social Studies and History, but whenever the teacher mentions us studying it yet again, none of us stifle our groans at hearing about it again and again since we started school.

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Almost every high school student dreads the days when a Social Studies teacher tells you "Next week, we will be looking at the Treaty of Waitangi", because it almost seems irrelevant to us as teenagers now.

Despite being one of the most important parts of our history, to my friends and I Waitangi Day is more about going to the beach or sleeping in and a day off school. We don't think of it as anything special to us, just another day.

Although it's our National day, like Fourth of July for the Americans, or Australia Day across the ditch, we don't hold it in the same regard.

There's no real national celebrations for the day we became a united country, nothing significant we do as a nation.

It has now almost become commercialised, with one of our major national retailers having a week-long Waitangi Day sale.

As a young New Zealander, I find myself disappointed in our lack of national pride.

We have no sense of nationalism, very little honour for anything we've achieved, except for sport.

This saddens me in a time where there is so much disharmony in the world, and we should be celebrating ourselves, everything we've done since 1840.

There should be concerts where they showcase New Zealand musicians, play New Zealand produced movies on the TV.

We have so much to celebrate about ourselves as a nation, and Waitangi Day should be the time when we do that.

It should be a time when we celebrate not only our music and movies, but our history and culture.

We have a rich, interesting culture built upon what was here, and also what was brought here.

We moan and groan about learning our history, about the Treaty, because there is no emphasis on how important it is to our society today, how it has shaped our nation.

Members of Parliament go to Waitangi every year, but often there is little shared with the general public about this visit besides the ceremonial aspect.

I believe that it should be something that affects change, not a ceremonial visit which has no effect on us as a country.

There is so much that just a conversation could affect, and this is the time when it should be done, on the day that we place emphasis on our nationhood and global identity.

What do other readers think about Waitangi Day? Read here.


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